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Psychle: Mortal Life
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A full-grown life-form will age then die. Such loss is replaced by an egg or flower, which is fertilized. The offspring then grows until born. From birth, the offspring matures until grown. All life shares a journey from birth to death. The narrative experiences of mortal beginnings and ends has been a major conditioned factor through every stage of evolutionary, cultural and psychological development. By definition, this is true anywhere in the universe. The arc of life and death gives form to our own psyches, for which reason stories that engage this narrative pattern engage the patterns of our own psyches.
The abstract pattern of the life cycle enables the alignment of specific life cycles, which stimulates metaphor and projection. The birth of a human from its mother can be projected into the birth of an animal from its mother or a sprout from the earth. Similarly, the sacrifice of an animal or plant has been a stand in for human sacrifice. The sacrifice of Isaac was replaced by a ram, which mimes the gradual displacement of human with animal sacrifice.
Similarly, human death is often symbolized by a reaper, which cuts down grain. On the Death Tarot card, for example, the reaper cuts grass with heads of humans. This is reminiscent of the decapitated Green Man, whose head mimes the annual harvest and loss of (deer) antlers. On one level we see the conjunction of the Green Man’s decapitation with Christmas as an alignment with light cycles. On another level, we see his head as a synthesis of human, plant and animal life. The death and resurrection of this life is then synchronized with the cycles of light.
The human life cycle is a recurring pattern in mythic stories. Osiris, Attis, Inanna, Adonis, Christ, Dionysus—these myths are about death, resurrection and eternal life. The same can be said of Persephone, whose seasonal journey is through Hades, which is associated with winter. This can be seen in Dante’s Inferno, which, beneath the flames, is frozen. There at the base, it’s ice that traps the Christian devil—Dis—a name shared with Roman Hades. And it’s from this encounter with the bottom that Dante begins his ascent—not just to Heaven, but more specifically, to the desired destination of everlasting life. This is a Roman-Catholic version of the soul’s journey through the afterlife—not unlike the story of Orpheus or Osiris.
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